Day 17 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

I’m not one for parties; my introversion means I’m diametrically opposed to them.

Having said that, I’m actually attending a party this afternoon/evening. It is a 60th birthday celebration though and should be a nice one. It is incorporating a showing of Blade Runner. I haven’t seen that movie in about 20 years, so I’m interested to see my interpretation of it now.

Another party issue arising is planning to host a 4th birthday party for our youngest son. Trying to decide what to do for that is a puzzler as well. Do we host it at home, or out somewhere? Who to invite? We don’t have friends who have kids of a similar age, but it won’t be much of a party if he doesn’t have some similar-aged kids around. We need to get moving on the planning so we can get the invites out, but we’re having trouble generating motivation. That’s not good parenting, is it!


Day 16 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

Our family might be about to lose our second animal of the year to old age. Our Standard Poodle, Jeff, is not holding up so well. He has developed large cysts under his skin, his teeth are wearing out and now he seems to have hurt his paw.

Earlier this year we had to say goodbye to our Airedale Terrier, Indi. Her absence seems to have accelerated the decline of Jeff. He relied on her so much to be top dog and I don’t think he has been the same since she has been gone.

I recall a couple of months ago when we were at the dog beach with Jeff, and we saw another Airedale Terrier. Jeff went running up to it, and you could just tell from his body language that he thought it was Indi. A sniff and a closer look confirmed that it was a stranger. If a dog can look deflated, Jeff did in that moment.

We bring animals into our lives knowing that it’s not forever and that one day we will need to make hard decisions about their future. The knowledge of that, however, doesn’t make the reality of the situation any easier.

Microblogvember: The old proverb is that it pays to be selective. Don’t just settle. You can do better than that.


Day 15 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

About three years ago we did a house renovation. We had our kitchen gutted and rebuilt, our bathrooms reconfigured, wood floors sanded and interior walls painted, and a new front deck.

A huge job already was made bigger because we had to move all of our furniture into storage and move our family into a short-term rental for the duration of the project. It reminded me why I don’t like moving house. Packing is the worst!

The renovation grew our mortgage significantly but improved our quality of life. We spend so much time in our home that making it a comfortable environment was worth the investment.

We had an excellent builder on the project. I’m no handyman so it was absolutely necessary to employ a professional to do the job right. That’s an element of our renovation for which I hold no regrets. It’s also a standing principle of mine: if you’re not good at something and have no interest in learning the skill, pay somebody to deliver. Money is a resource that can be deployed strategically to save your own frustration and heartache. When it comes to a renovation, if I were doing it myself there would be plenty of both. I’d rather be without the money!

Microblogvember: I don’t enjoy swimming in bodies of water where I cannot see below my feet, into the murky depths.

I want to remove the www from my domain but I somehow have a weird mishmash of redirects to `http(s)://www’ that I can’t figure out what to change, where. Anything I’ve tried to do has broken all access.


Day 14 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

Recycling is kind of a big deal in our house. Our council runs a three bin system for rubbish management: one bin for food and organics, one for rubbish, and a third for recyclables.

My wife Hannah works in the recycling industry. She is the Head of External Relations at Western Australia Return Recycle Renew (WARRRL). This organisation has responsibility for establishing a new container deposit scheme for our State. That will mean that for every drink container brought back to a recycling point, 10 cents is given to the recycler.

As well as reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the scheme provides an opportunity for community engagement. I could choose to have my recycled containers benefit an organisation that elects to participate. For instance, if my son’s local Scout group gets involved they can use it as a fund-raising measure.

Western Australia is a geographically huge State and this is rolling out across it all. Hannah and the entire WARRRL team have been working hard to get this initiative up and running and I am proud of the work they are doing. It will be exciting when the system is ready to launch!

Microblogvember: Our poor old dog Jeff has a big lump at the top of his neck.


Day 13 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

My favourite beverage is coffee. There is no contest. There is not much better than an Australian flat white.

Italian coffee is great but it’s a transitory drink. You get it at the bar, drink it and leave. Don’t sit down because it will cost you a fortune.

American coffee is bad. It’s either sweetened and flavoured to the point where its more milkshake than coffee, or its drip-filtered and been sitting in storage for a while.

Australian coffee has the quality of the Italian style, but there is a social norm of sitting down at the coffee shop to drink it. Our baristas are great at frothing the milk to achieve micro-foam rather than aerated fluff, and we benefit from a delicious crema when they pour.

Regarding other beverages, I enjoy sharing a pot of tea at home with my wife. She is addicted to tea and doesn’t drink coffee at all. I think that’s weird, but there you go. I rarely drink soft drink. Perhaps an occasional Coke Zero. Never in my life have I had a Red Bull or other super-caffeinated beverage. I can’t see how they can possibly be good for me.

Microblogvember: I write this microblog from an event that I have been able to organise. We have a room of people undertaking strategy development and financial forecasting.


Day 12 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

A smell can be a most evocative sense. It can stimulate memory, facilitate calm or revulsion, or provide us with timely information.

If I smell new carpet, I am transported back to my Year 1 classroom which had been renovated and new carpet laid. That’s an associated formed around 35 years ago. The smell of a basketball stadium: that combination of sweat, dencorub, and timber treatment to this day hastens my heart beat.

Today I was between meetings so I had the opportunity to park near the beach for a few minutes. As I opened the car window, my olfactory senses were treated to that wonderful scent of salt air traveling on a warm breeze. That is much nicer smell than that of a dirty nappy, which over the past 8 years I’ve become far to familiar with.

A smell I miss is the cooking of roast beef and yorkshire pudding. That was a staple of my childhood diet but I don’t have the time or inclination to make it myself these days.

Of all our senses, I think smell is the most associative. I don’t think vision, hearing, touch or taste can transport us back in time or recall memories of a person or place the way a smell can. We should probably take more time out to appreciate our noses.

Microblogvember: This morning I wanted to stayin bed. Unfortunately, a want was insufficient reason to do so.

I’ve watched the first episode of The Spy on Netflix. Highly recommend! 📺

Apple Arcade games drain battery way too fast. I’m guessing it might be the DRM? Anyway, I’m canceling for a while since I’m not much of a gamer. Maybe Apple will sort it out over time. Apple Arcade games drain battery way too … - Apple Community


Day 11 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

I miss my childhood. It was such a different era; it’s hard to recognise my childhood as an experience compared with those of my kids.

The memories of my childhood seem like something that should be written off as me looking back through rose-coloured glasses. But I contest that not everything was great and nice, but it really was what retro throwbacks show the 1980s to be.

Some of my key memories across a relatively wide age range include:

  • Leaving the house to ride my bike around the streets without saying where I was going. I didn’t know where I was going - how could I tell others?
  • Staying out until dusk then going home to either my own home, or my friend’s house for dinner. I think I almost split my time 50:50.
  • Riding our BMX bikes through citrus orchards where dirt bike jumps had been constructed, and getting mega air.
  • Playing pick-up basketball all day, and sweating litres.
  • Playing multi-day games of Monopoly. Leaving it set up to pick up the next day.
  • Climbing trees - but never as well as my friend.
  • Spending hours throwing a ball against a wall, then playing a solid cricket stroke when it bounced back to me.
  • Backyard camping for days (maybe even weeks?) on end. We had a big block, so we could pitch the tent in the back yard and be invisible from the house.
  • Playing a season of Under 13’s cricket and being completely isolated by the other boys - and the coach. (Things are much better in this regard now, it seems.)
  • Abseiling, rock climbing and other cool activities at school that probably wouldn’t be allowed anymore.

I’m proud of my childhood. I had enough freedom to be adventurous and I managed to avoid any major dangers. I learnt to know my limits and stay within them. I had a sense of place in my suburb.

If I had a time machine, I would happily go back to the early 1980s and do it all again.

Microblogvember: I used to touch a basketball every single day. It’s now been months since I held one.


Day 10 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

I’ve made a concerted effort this year to increase my volume of book reading.

In recent years my reading has been dominated by web pages, articles and RSS feeds. This resulted in a decline in my book reading - something I used to do a lot of.

To track my reading and add some motivation I set a target on Goodreads.. This has worked because I’ve read 23 books against my target of 20 - a target I revised upwards mid-year.

Another thing that has helped has been an Audible subscription. I think it’s fair enough to consider listening to audiobooks as reading. I’m still consuming the story; it actually takes longer than reading the printed version, and it allows me to read in ‘gaps’ of time, notably driving.

I’ve enjoyed my return to reading. Once more I feel like my mind is being stretched and my imagination activated.

Catalina and wifidiagnostics files multiplying like Tribbles

I’ve got problems with my Catalina install. I have wifidiagnostics files multiplying like tribbles in my private/var/tmp/ folder. With each of these files weighing in between 200Mb and 400Mb, my entire SSD is being swamped with these files, to the point of the operating system being crippled for lack of disk space.

I thought a short-term interim solution would be to set up a Hazel watch script to automatically trash these files as they are created. I’ve hit a problem with this as well, because they are system files the user doesn’t have adequate permissions to delete them, so Hazel isn’t able to do it. I haven’t yet figured out how to combine some kind of chmod or chown command within Hazel to get it to change permissions and then delete the files.

In searching for a solution on the web, I’ve only found one other mention of the problem.

I have deleted all my wifi settings and rebuilt them. I have deleted a security profile I had. I have toggled the enable/disable diagnostics by option-clicking the wifi menubar icon to see if that might rewrite a .plist file. Nothing has resolved it to date.

I think this must be an underlying bug in the wifi networking frameworks of Catalina, but that’s above my pay grade.

I hope it’s resolved in a future update. For now, it’s an annoying bug, and another indicator that Apple’s software quality is not where it should be.

Microblogvember: My son is building a Lego craft at the moment that is designed to go into space.


Day 9 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

There is so much high-quality television programming available now. We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Free to Air, etc. There was a time when it was necessary to find things off the back of a truck. I think those days are almost gone.

This overwhelming choice has led to a strange outcome, in that I’m actually watching less TV than I probably ever have. I feel like the onslaught is overwhelming so I’m just going to close my eyes and block my ears and hum to myself.

The competition now is for attention. As all the streaming services vie for our television attention budget, the television budget is being attacked by gaming, web browsing, reading, exercise and whatever else there is to do in recreation time.

My sacred cow of TV shows over many years has been Survivor. I would always find time for this show. My wife and I would watch it together. Now, we are 2 seasons behind in that. If we can’t keep up with that show, what hope have I got of ever finishing Season 3 of Stranger Things?

Microblogvember: Today’s temperature is forecast to hit 38 degrees Celsius. That is the opposite of cold.


Day 8 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

This week I’ve had a massive technology upgrade. I’ve moved from a 2013 MacBook Pro (the generation of MacBooks which had great keyboards), to a 2019 27” iMac. I had been deferring this computer upgrade for ages, as I dithered between getting a new MacBook (and which variant?), an iMac or even a mac mini. I was hoping the iMac would gain the T2 security chip and possibly a new display with reduced bezels. I was waiting for Apple to return to manufacturing laptops with scissor mechanisms in their keyboards. By the end of October, none of those had come to pass. All the while I was becoming more frustrated with the slowness of my MacBook Pro.

I bit the bullet and bought the iMac. I’ve had a 27” Apple Cinema Display for years, so I’m used to a big screen. Yet this is the first time I’ve had retina resolution at this size. For my ageing eyes it is incredible. In use the iMac feels much faster with my old machine. I know it’s not near the processing grunt of an iMac Pro - but I don’t do video, podcasting or programming. For my productivity app usage and a bit of photo editing (and less than I used to do) this is plenty powerful enough for me.

A quick run of Geekbench on this Mac, compared with what I found in the Geekbench browser for my old laptop, highlights the difference:

iMac MacBook Pro
Single Core 1053 710
Multi Core 4875 1565

It’s not all speeds and feeds, though. This new iMac feels nicer, supports newer features such as Sidecar, and has cleared clutter on my desk!

Technology upgrade cycle

All technology needs a regular upgrade cycle. Technology ages out and the industry moves forward. Inevitably devices need to be changed out. Obsolescence generally occurs before devices fail.

Over my most recent technology cycle, I’ve been depreciating my devices over a longer period. I’ve accepted not having the latest and greatest and have upgraded only when there has been a compelling reason.

For interest’s sake I maintain a spreadsheet to track how long I’ve owned major technology assets, and compute ‘life of service’ and ‘cost per week’. Two of our TVs, however, pre-date this spreadsheet, so they are definitely ready for replacement!

Some highlights from my spreadsheet include:

Device Service Life Weekly Cost
MacBook Pro 5.8 years $5.71
QNAP NAS 6.4 years $3.12
Cinema Display 8.8 years $2.82
Average1 3.6 years $4.50

It all comes back to budgeting

Letting the equipment age was fine in itself. Now though, we have a backlog of technology all set for replacement at the same time. The problem is I haven’t been reserving cash to replace the depreciated items. I responsibly saved up for the iMac, but other technology has not had a regular savings pattern applied to it.

Writing this post has prompted me to create a new line item for technology upgrades in my YNAB budget. I’ve set a monthly savings goal. This way I’ll be able to build my savings to facilitate a household technology refresh. I will keep ploughing money into this category on a monthly basis so that when the next device needs replacing, I’ll have the money sitting there waiting to be used. That beats going into debt - and don’t even get me started on the scourge of Afterpay! That’s a post for another day.

  1. I’ve excluded the brand-new iMac from this calculation. [return]

Kids cricket is winding down as the sun sets. Yay summer! 🏏

Microblogvember: A pet peeve of mine is when people describe an asterisk as either an asterix or a star.

Watched Episode 1 of For All Mankind and enjoyed it. It brings to mind how fragile the success of the Apollo missions were, despite how much we take it for granted now. 📺

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